“The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing …
“The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
“Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”
Those words were written by President George Washington in his farewell address to the nation in 1796. As the second Democratic debate of the upcoming 2020 election is upon us, I am drawn to his notion of the divisiveness of political parties and what they could do to our, at the time, very young Republic.
And 223 years later, his words seem blatantly prophetic.
The United States' political landscape is not only dominated by two inherently corrupt and self-serving political parties, the temperament of her citizens is likewise drawn into the shameless bickering as one side continuously attacks the other. It is for this reason that Washington urged the young country “to discourage and restrain it.” Instead, we as a whole have embraced it.
On any given day, scrolling through the millions of comments on thousands of Facebook posts can give crystal clear insight into the problems facing our country. No longer do we embrace the different ideals and ideologies that our fellow Americans possess. We do not even tolerate those who are different from ourselves. Instead, we openly condemn, or worse, anyone who is or sees the world differently from ourselves. That condemnation is only fueled and subliminally encouraged by vitriolic political parties, the politicians that represent them and the political commentators that spread their rhetoric.
Not so long ago, the Republican and Democratic parties, represented by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, held this country hostage over political posturing. While over 30,000 working Americans sat at home without a means to provide for their families, the two parties used them as a bargaining chip to gain ground against each other. How long do we sit idly by and allow two groups of people to not only dictate policy, but fuel the divide between us?
Following the 2015 shooting of a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the political commentators for the Democratic party pushed an agenda that every southern Caucasian was inherently racist. Not only that, as is the case following every gun-related domestic terrorist attack in this county, guns were to blame for the motives of one evil individual. The “Left” used the opportunity to drive a wedge between the different races and regions of this country. It is something we should not tolerate as a nation. The Republican party is equally guilty.
President Trump built part of his presidential campaign on the promise of eliminating illegal immigration. It is a reasonable promise. While the detention centers along the border are a humanitarian issue, a country without borders loses its sovereignty. However, why are we suddenly attacking nationalized American citizens?
The recent chants of “send her back” have the potential to lead our country down a very dangerous road. Ilhan Omar, U.S. congresswoman from Minnesota, is a legal immigrant. She moved to this country from Somalia and became a United States citizen in 2000. Seemingly, it's no longer good enough to require legal entry; now some are calling send her back because she looks different or believes in different things. It is accurate that the president did not outright start the chants, but the images show a man “basking in the glory.” The “Right” has methodically built a platform of fear and hatred, much the same as Democrats.
Allow that to sink in for a moment. The Democrats insist the right-wing people are gun toting racists, while the Republicans are fostering a nationalist mentality. The two parasitically feed off one another while remaining in total power. Meanwhile, we the people are pawns in a political game that seems to only escalate with each election cycle.
Somewhere in the history of the evolution of American society, we became a seclusive people, choosing to live in our own red or blue bubbles. We no longer value the individualism that makes someone unique. We are no longer accepting of differences. Instead, everyone uses moral, religious or patriotic high ground to justify a divisive dialogue that is only fueled and encouraged by the two-party system we live under. As a nation, we should find this unacceptable.
It is OK to disagree. It is OK to believe differently. But are we truly so far gone that we have forgotten how to be respectful? Do we no longer know how to have a civil and productive conversation? I couldn't disagree more with the old adage that “you don't discuss religion and politics.” It comes from the idea that the topics are so passion driven that to even discuss them will escalate into incensed arguments. The greatest accomplishments in the history of mankind have come about following the sharing and joining of beliefs and ideas. But we no longer truly listen to one another, now we just attack anyone who sees the world differently.
I identify as what I like to call a “Constitutional Independent,” having given up on the Republican Party that I originally registered under years ago. Now, it is unrealistic to call for the two parties to be abolished. They are far too entrenched in the very fabric of our nation. However, we should take a stand against the divisive wedge that those in power continue to try to drive between us.
Instead, allow us to stand next to our neighbors, regardless of their race, religion, sexuality or native nationality and embrace those differences that make each one of us special. Let those in the Democratic and Republican parties continue their childish bickering. It is on us to rise above the rhetoric and learn again to truly accept and embrace one another. We can, and should, all coexist in this country. It is the only way we prevail against anything that comes at us.
Jeffery Winborne is new media coordinator for the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.